MA Public Opinion and Political Behaviour
BA History and Law options

Final Year, Component 04

Law or History option(s) from list
Britain’s Second World War: Myth and Memory

This final year module examines and compares the experience of the British people during the Second World War, the myth-making that was a part of this experience, and the shifting cultural memory of the war in Britain from 1945 to the present day. It makes extensive use of the Mass Observation Online Archive (available online via the Albert Sloman library) to examine the British experience of war and to consider how people represented the war themselves. It is a full year Module that, in the first term, focuses on the war years, introducing students to the history of the war, to Mass Observation, and to the processes by which wartime culture created the enduring myths of Dunkirk, the Blitz, the Battle of Britain and the People's War. The module uses Mass Observation alongside other primary sources to consider which stories became a part of these myths, and which were excluded or marginalised. In the second term the focus turns to the cultural memory of the war in Britain since 1945. Students are introduced to concepts and theories of cultural memory that they will go on to apply to representations of the war that are studied. The memory of the war is traced from 1945 to the current day, with themes examined including the popularity of the war film, the mobilisation of the Second World War in Britain's subsequent wars, the growth of the wartime anniversary, museums and memorials, and the 'memory wars' that have been a central aspect of the Brexit debate since 2016.

Britain’s Cold War

Britain faced an uncertain world after 1945. Successive governments sought to maintain the nation's global power in the face of economic decline, the end of empire, and the rise of the superpowers. At the same time, it took an active role in 'fighting' the Cold War, aiming to limit the influence of the Soviet Union and global communism. Fighting the Cold War involved a variety of activities, which we will examine on the module: how the Cold War was understood as a conflict; diplomatic and political plans to tackles crises; the military need to provide a significant 'deterrent' to future war; and the mass mobilisation of the public opinion in favour of the conflict. We also examine opposition to the Cold War. Each seminar will focus on a key topic using primary sources to deepen our knowledge of these important events.

The Common People: British Social History 1830-1950

Britain underwent profound transformations between 1830 and 1950. It became the first indisputably modern, industrial capitalist society in the world. Not only was the environment turned upside down, but the lives and identities of the British people were altered fundamentally. You’ll explore this process in a thematic as well as a chronological manner, and study labour, class, gender, the state, democracy, imperialism, culture, and poverty.

Henry VIII and his reign

The reign of Henry was a seminal period in English history which saw massive religious and cultural change in England. It was also a period of significant change in the history of Ireland, with the beginning of English attempts to conquer the entire island. Understandably a period of such transformative change is and was the subject of intense debate. Henry VIII, the monarch at the centre of these debates, also remains a figure of considerable significance and complexity in popular culture down to the present day. This module will examine the changes occurred in England and Ireland under Henry. It will also examine the goals of the king and his success or failure in achieving them. It will compare Henry VIII to rival kings and assess his challenges and achievements in comparison to their challenges and achievements. The major event of Henry VIII's reign was the break with Rome and his becoming Supreme Head of the English Church; this module will analyse how and why this happened and the consequences of these events. And it will look at the dark closing years of the reign as Henry VIII plunged his kingdom into debt fighting foreign wars and while rival nobles watched the dying king and schemed for their futures in the reign of his son. The module will conclude by examining the importance of Henry VIII's, especially on English religion and politics and by looking at Henry VIII's role in popular culture throughout the centuries. (Henry VIII is one of the very few monarchs in English history whose picture is recognised by nearly everyone; this module will explain how and why this happened). Henry VIII was many things but he was not dull. Fascinating people interacted with him: Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. The king, his friends and enemies, his achievements and failures have inspired playwrights, novelists and artists for five hundred years. If you take this module you will start to learn why. The readings in this module will consist of both primary and secondary sources for each lecture.

Slavery and Plantation Societies in Latin America

The majority of the 12 million enslaved Africans deported to the Americas during the 16th to the 19th centuries ended up working on plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. Sugar, cacao, indigo, tobacco, cotton and coffee were the main commodities produced for the rapidly expanding European markets. Slavery in the Americas contributed to the making of the modern world. You’ll examine the different plantation societies in Brazil, British Jamaica, the French Caribbean, and the Spanish colonies (Venezuela and Cuba).

Witches, Witchcraft and Witch-Hunts in Early Modern Europe and New England

This module will focus on a phenomenon peculiar to the early modern period: the prosecution of c.100,000-120,000 people for the crime of witchcraft in Europe and its colonies, which resulted in around 50-60,000 executions. In order to understand this phenomenon, and also the regional and chronological variation in witch-trials across Europe during the early modern period.

From Liberation to the Tiananmen Massacre: China From Mao to Deng Xiaoping, 1949-1992

The Mao era was a period of momentous changes in Chinese society. This module explores the history of the first 50 years of the People's Republic of China (the PRC) from the Communist Liberation in 1949 to the aftermath of June 4th 1989 Tiananmen Massacre. It begins with the date when the Communist Party of China established state power under the leadership of Mao Zedong, and ends with Deng Xiaoping's 'southern tour' in 1992, which signalled the full-scale rejection of Mao's economic strategy by embracing the global market. It places this history within the context of China's international relations, to examine the international influences and ideological premises moulding the government's changing political and economic strategies.

Law and Literature

This module will examine the interrelationship between law and literature from a variety of perspectives. The module reflects research interests of staff in the Law School and Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies. There is increasing academic interest in interdisciplinary study in law, and there is an established body of scholarship examining the relationship between law and literature from a variety of perspectives. The perspectives examined in the module will include, but not be confined to, the representation of law in literature, legal texts as literature and how techniques of literary interpretation can inform the study and understanding of law. The module will also present the opportunity for students to examine the nature of interdisciplinary work, exemplified by the study of law and literature.

Comparative Media Law and Regulation

This module provides an insight into the major legal questions facing the media, and an appreciation of the complexity of journalism and publication generally in a global context. You consider a broad outline of the principal areas of UK law that apply to the media, and which are set in turn against broader principles as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. A range of themes around Article 6 (Fair Trial), Article 8 (Privacy) and Article 10 (Free Speech) will be explored against practice and issues in a selection of other jurisdictions, including the UK’s equivalent focus on Contempt, Confidentiality and Libel .

Public Law in Context: Past, Present and Future

This module builds on Foundations of Public Law. The research-led teaching for this module provides insights into several areas of public law that are not always available in standard texts and are designed to enable detailed consideration of issues that are of current importance and the subject of research within the School of Law.

Family Law

What are the legal implications of family breakdown when the parties are married? Or when they are civil partners? How does this change if they have children? Examine key features of family law, including the protective function (relating to domestic violence), adjustment of property rights and responsibilities of family members.

Introduction to Public International Law

What are the rules governing state responsibility? Or the acquisition of statehood? How do you apply international law to notions of jurisdiction? Study the theories and concepts behind public international law, plus new developments in the field. Learn to apply relevant principles to specific case studies.

Selected Issues in Public International Law

How do states behave with regards to their own people? What about their territory? How do they behave to others? Build on your knowledge of public international law regarding human rights, the law of the sea, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the use of force.

Banking Law

You’ll cover the legal aspects of banking transactions, banking regulation and the bank-customer relationship. You’ll be introduced to the concept as banks as economic and social institutions and their regulation in a domestic and global context. You’ll analyse the bank-customer relationship including the important issues of contractual fairness, the banks duty of confidentiality, and the potential for transactional and advisory liability.

Company Law

What are the main corporate management issues today? What is the legislative framework for insolvency and takeovers? Have corporate scandals changed modern company law? Examine the rules that govern companies, building knowledge for a career in commerce and industry. Evaluate real-life cases to understand statutes, case law and regulatory practice.

Animal Protection and Wildlife Law

What legal issues are raised by the use of animals in science? Or animals who are used as a food source? How does the law protect endangered species? Understand the legislation and case law relating to different categories of animal. Consider the philosophical underpinnings of such laws.

Introduction to Medical Law

How significant is patient autonomy? What are the ethical issues around consent to medical treatment? How effective is the law in dealing with medical negligence? Study the general principles of medical law, assessing current topics and real-life case studies. Examine the legal issues and ethical considerations in medical law.

Clinical Legal Education (Law Placement)

Want to experience a practice-based role in a legal environment? Undertake a placement to deepen and apply your understanding of law to a real-world setting. Build your personal and professional skills, including oral and written communication skills, problem solving skills and the ability to reflect on your work.

Consumer Contract Law

How do you apply the law to contracts between business parties? What about contracts between private consumers? Examine the key legal and policy issues surrounding the regulation of contracts. Understand and critically evaluate the rules, then apply this knowledge to hypothetical problem situations.

Commercial Contract Law

How do you apply the law to contracts between business parties? How would you resolve a problem with faulty goods? Or issues around globalisation? Examine the key legal and policy issues surrounding the regulation of business contracts. Understand and evaluate the rules, then apply this knowledge to real-life case studies.

The Protection of Human Rights in the UK

What role do political institutions play in protecting human rights? How do judicial and political institutions interact on this? What reforms are needed? Examine the Human Rights Act 1998, focusing closely on particular sections. Apply your knowledge to substantive legal problems and critically evaluate existing law on human rights.

Employment Law and Practice

What is the nature of the legal relationship between employers and employees? Study the practical application of employment law to the settlement of workplace disputes while gaining practical skills in drafting and advocacy before an employment tribunal.


Jurisprudence is a module that enables you to think in depth about how law works and the impact it has on the society around us. For example: How is law different to other rules and principles? Should law reflect moral opinion, and if so, how do we decide what is moral? Can judges really be objective when they make decisions? How do we judge if law is making society fairer? The module covers many key theoretical approaches to understanding what law is and how it functions. In doing so, we will look at the relationship (and conflicts) between law, on the one hand, and politics, markets, and social justice on the other. You will be asked to think for yourself about these issues, and reflect on which perspectives provide us with the most accurate, and the most useful, ways of thinking about law.

Law of Evidence

Can previous criminal convictions of the defendant or a witness be presented to the court? How are vulnerable witnesses (like rape complainants or children) protected by the court system? Can an illegally obtained confession be used in court? Study the process and procedure involved in presenting evidence at trials.

Private International Trade Law

What are the key legal principles underlying international trade transactions? How is English law applied to private international trade? What international instruments help establish an autonomous law of international trade? This module will provide students with the training to understand, develop and deploy legal arguments in the context of private international trade law.

Competition Law

How do you apply competition law to mergers? Or to deal with the abuse of a dominant position? Discuss EU and UK competition law. Examine the relationship between the EU and UK competition law regimes, and critically evaluate its operation in a commercial environment. Assess recent developments in this field.

Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice: Law, Policy and Practice

How important is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? And how important is a defendant’s right to a fair trial? Study the law, policy and practice of the criminal justice system. Examine recent trends in criminal justice policy and specific aspects of the criminal process, from pre- to post-trial.

Legal Ethics and Justice

Want practical experience of providing legal advice? Work within the Essex Law Clinic, receiving supervision and training to provide assistance on topics like employment, housing, benefits and consumer matters. Develop your abilities in interviewing, client care, networking and teamwork, as well as general office skills.

International Environmental Law

This module introduces students to the international legal and governance mechanisms concerning the environment. It examines key principles under international law related to the environment, such as sustainable development and precaution. It then goes on to consider salient aspects of international environmental law as it applies to specific regimes such as those related to climate change, biodiversity protection, freshwater management and the management of hazardous waste. It also considers the relationship that exists between international environmental law and other areas of law that intersect with it, such as human rights and the law of armed conflict. Throughout the module it will introduce students to the structural dimensions of existing international environmental law that have resulted from North-South relations and provides students with a basis upon which consideration can be given to the related issues of equity, common but differentiated responsibility and environmental justice.

Introduction to Islamic Law

Islamic Law (Shariah) is present in many legal fields ranging from contract, to property, to criminal law. Various jurisdictions have adopted particular systems of regulation for specific sectors due to its significance. This module places particular emphasis on the history of Islamic law and its place in modern society. You are challenged with demonstrating a critical understanding of the key concepts and approaches to Islamic law and the ability to analyse and evaluate differing opinions on legal and ethical arguments.

Copyright and Trade Mark Law

This module introduces students to the exciting field of intellectual property – the field of law that governs creativity and innovation. It aims to enable students to understand the nature and purposes of copyright and trade mark law, two of the key intellectual property rights in the UK. It involves a detailed examination of the relevant statutory provisions in the CDPA 1988 and Trade Marks Act 1994, as well as relevant case law. The course is taught against the backdrop of an increasingly voluminous EU jurisprudence.

Clinical Legal Education: Commercial Awareness
Public International Economic Law

This module will introduce you to the core issues of public international economic law. It will address how public international trade, investment, and monetary laws interact to protect states' economic interests. Students will also learn to critically analyse current debates in international economic law so they are prepared to work in this sphere in the future.

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